Stakeholders' views of supporting asthma management in schools with a school-based asthma programme for primary school children: A qualitative study in Malaysia

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Abstract / Description of output

Objective: The WHO Global School Health Initiative aimed to improve child and community health through health promotion programmes in schools, though most focus on preventing communicable disease. Despite WHO recommendations, no asthma programme is included in the Malaysian national school health service guideline. Therefore, we aimed to explore the views of school staff, healthcare professionals and policymakers about the challenges of managing asthma in schools and the potential of a school asthma programme for primary school children.
Design: A focus group and individual interview qualitative study using purposive sampling of participants to obtain diverse views. Data collection was guided by piloted semi-structured topic guides. The focus groups and interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. We completed data collection once data saturation was reached.
Setting: Stakeholders in education and health sectors in Malaysia.
Participants: Fifty-two participants (40 school staff, 9 healthcare professionals and 3 policymakers) contributed to nine focus groups and eleven individual interviews.
Results: School staff had limited awareness of asthma and what to do in emergencies. There was no guidance on asthma management in government schools, and teachers were unclear about their role in school children's health. These uncertainties led to delays in the treatment of asthma symptoms/attacks, and suggestions that an asthma education programme and a school plan would improve asthma care. Perceived challenges in conducting school health programmes included a busy school schedule and poor parental participation. A tailored asthma programme in partnerships with schools could facilitate the programme's adoption and implementation.
Conclusions: Identifying and addressing issues and challenges specific to the school and wider community could facilitate the delivery of a school asthma programme in line with the WHO School Health Initiative. Clarity over national policy on the roles and responsibilities of school staff could support implementation and guide appropriate and prompt response to asthma emergencies in schools.
Original languageEnglish
Article number052058
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Early online date7 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Asthma/prevention & control
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Malaysia
  • Qualitative Research
  • School Health Services
  • Schools


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